The size of the civil service cannot be dealt with in the short term by job cuts as this will just add more burden to the social services. So I suggest that all the statuary bodies are privatised by public flotation of stocks on the Cayman Stock Market. The allocation of shares to be purchased should go to Caymanians first, then local residents, then local based institutions and finally overseas institutions with the government holding 15 per cent of the stock.
The newly formed companies would be given a sliding scale of subsidy to zero over five years and would have two years protection on government contracts before other private would compete for the work. All existing civil servants working for these firms would be laid off with full severance benefits and start a fresh for the new companies with benefits based on Cayman laws private sector entitlements but in return any wage increases would be free of government restraints.
This would reduce government employees without job cuts, introduce market led competition for some government services without political interference and the revenues from the sales could be used to reduce the national debt and the UK may step back again. If successful, then it should be extended to noncore government services and allow the free market to decide if the public needs these services once they are not supplied free from the government. This will lower the cost of the public sector and thus the cost of living and doing business here making Cayman more attractive again thus boosting local economy.
Secondly, the lack of a living minimum wage is causing real strife; whilst I am not one for big government, I do accept governments must step in when the private sector fails its citizens and the area of lack of minimum wage is one of those areas. The minimum wage must be set in Cayman at a rate where a Caymanian can live off it and not based on four people sharing a house. It must also include everyone; also domestic servants. Fifteen years ago the Cayman Contractors Association had the labourer’s wage guide for its members set at CI$6.50 and so how can the present government offer CI$5 in 2012 yet at the same time be subsidising over 9,000 of its citizens on low pay. The government must stop the subsidy to its citizens and make the private sector pay a fair minimum wage to all their employees. In addition, close loopholes on not paying overtime after 45 hours so that the true cost of working outside normal hours is borne on the consumer and not the worker.
For unethical employers will exploit this and offer wages at a lower rate than Caymanians can live off yet keep their rate a market price and pocket the profit whilst letting the government pay the difference.
Or worse yet finding illegal workers on the street corner to do the service for cash without paying the labour burden cost of complying with government taxes and local laws because the customer is getting it cheap without think what damage they are doing to this society.
The costs to society is a far greater price as taxation increases to cover costs. Increases in crime cost the government and local businesses and over time destroy Cayman’s wealth, which in turn will probably cause the low wage businesses to go bust.
I suggest a sliding scale from 16-year-old school leaver increased by one dollar per year up to somewhere in the range of CI$9 to $10 per hour for adults (over 21) as this will allow employers to take on school leavers and not have to pay the same as trained, experienced employees until they have four years experience. And so this brings me to youth unemployment.
If we as the whole community do not take responsibility for training the youth of the country, then we are doomed. In every country in the world generally 20 per cent of the population will become managers and the other 80 per cent will be artisans and tradesmen and Cayman should be no different.
Instead of giving scholarships out to the few, the government should offer student loans to everyone. Thus the student, government and employer are all stake holders in the employment venture, where the student is studying law or masonry. Their loans would be payable after the first five years from the end of study at the national interest rate of the day i.e. variable but still payable.
Every school leaver should have an opportunity for a place on a three year apprenticeship being taught at UCCI and getting work experience with local firms. The loan will cover the cost of living, less the wages they earn for the three-year course. At the end of their training, when they reach the required standard, however long that takes then they will be put on a register and only new work permits will be issued for these posts once everyone is employed. Noting if the trainee fails to uphold the required work ethic or workmanship drops below the standard, then they would be struck off the registry and only readmitted after re-sitting and passing the competence exam again. There should be no job on the Island that the unemployed youth could not take up if the minimum wage is set correctly. Young girls (or boys for that fact) could be maids and learn how to budget a household, which is a very important life skill before moving on to something better with experience and a CV. All fast food restaurants should have school leavers learning time management and team work also before moving on or get on a management training scheme.
What’s wrong with cutting lawns? I cut my own. Or learning about what plants can grow here without irrigation or laying blocks for a living or collecting garbage or becoming a nurse or working in a hotel.
The old adage says “make no man do a job that I would not do myself”. If Cayman adopted this as the motto of employment, then more money would remain in the local economy and taxes could do down and everyone would gain.
If Cayman wants full employment, then it has to learn to live without the revenue of 3,000 plus work permits and the public cost of 6,000 subsidised jobs. It also has to understand that no matter what the nationality of the person being employed, the wage is based on the job and not the person. So when you are purchasing goods and services on the Island remember the vendors’ needs to make a profit to continue to do business in these Islands and let competition set market prices.
This is no quick fix and will take at least the next term of government to see the results, but the long term future will be a bright place for all.